december 23, 2012 was by far the best day of my life...so far. on that day, Travis Lane swept me up in a magical wonderland and forever changed my life.
i remember the day T told me i was "the one." we had just celebrated my brother and sister-in-law's wedding in Lake Tahoe, and after 4 wonderful days in Northern California, i dropped T back off at the airport and said good-bye while he flew back to Long Beach and i spent another week with my family. it was one of the saddest good-byes i can remember. the next week was filled with text messages, late night phone calls, and skype dates. one night, our conversation turned toward the future, and as he was sitting there in his garage with just one little lamp shining some light onto his face, T said that one day, he would marry me, and only me. that was in june 2011, just 4 months after we fell in love. unlike our other big moments, like hand-holding, and i love you, and will you date me? where T had always been a step ahead of me, waiting patiently for me to take the leap and go on this crazy adventure with him, i also knew i wanted to marry this kid one day. i remember driving up to Lake Tahoe, the windows rolled down and the wind flying through my hair, the sunshine streaming over the windy mountain roads, and i glanced over at T. suddenly, i flashed forward to 5, 10, 20 years from now, and he was always there. and with that, i knew he was my forever.
flashforward one and a half more years of dating.
we have traveled to argentina and china together, driven countless miles up the I-5, have strengthened our ties with our families, have climbed mountains and blazed trails, have seen friends come and go, have spent endless nights writing essays and reading textbooks, have had approximately 354 cups of coffee, have taken about 1, 003 pictures together, have laughed endlessly, cried when days were hard, and always resolved to make ourselves, each other, and our relationship better. we have prayed, stumbled, served, danced, sung, played, read, hugged, kissed, encouraged, challenged, learned, and grown endlessly. every single day, i have fallen more in love with him.
by last summer, we knew that marriage was only one year away. there were plenty of days were i wished and wished i didn't have to wait until we had our diplomas to call him husband, but we knew that God had a plan and a perfect timeline in mind for us. so as senior year loomed and graduation became a not so far off milestone, we also began preparing for the next season of life.
lots of conversations and dreams would soon become a reality.
the week after Thanksgiving, T flew up north for a church conference only 40 minutes away from my house. up until he proposed, i thought that's all the trip was. when i found out a friend of ours had actually flown him up there to ask my mom for my hand and offered the conference as an alibi, my jaw dropped. what a gift that T could take my mom out to breakfast, share his heart with her, and receive her blessing for what he would soon do. and my mom! what a good secret keeper ;]
right before christmas, i flew down to Cabo San Lucas to visit my best friend and her husband. 4 days out of the country gave T the perfect opportunity. without my having any idea, he had already designed a ring and picked it up while i was in Mexico. when he picked me up from LAX on thursday night, i had no clue that there was a beautiful diamond ring burning a hole through his pocket. the next evening, we hit the I-5 to spend a few days celebrating Christmas with my family.
everyone has asked whether i knew the proposal was coming or not, and honestly, i really had no idea. we had said before that a 6-month engagement would be ideal, meaning my mind was expecting to be engaged by february or march. T's sudden protectiveness over his e-mail, phone, and Facebook maybe made me a little suspicious, and maybe my romantic dreams ran a little wild every once in a while (wouldn't it be so romantic if he proposed around Christmas?), but i quickly talked myself out of it. there is no way he has the ring yet, i thought.
on sunday, december 23rd, my mom and i went on a little date for manicures and coffee (totally coincidental). later that afternoon, T and i visited our favorite coffee stop up north to read and spend some quiet time together. i had mentioned a few days earlier that i wanted to give him one of his christmas gifts early, on christmas eve, and maybe he could give me one early as well? i only bugged him for fun, but as we pulled into the parking lot at The Nugget, i saw a present on the back seat. "what's this?" i asked. "oh, one of your gifts! i thought you might want to open it a little early." "but it's the 23rd, not the 24th - why today?" "just open it...you'll like it." "can i open it now?!" i asked. "mmm, you might want to wait til we're home again." totally oblivious, i started guessing what kinds of heavy things that could fit into a shoebox i had put on my list. at about 5:15, we started heading home, but instead of going straight off the freeway ramp toward my house, T suddenly turned left. "where are we going?! you've never been down this road!" and in the back of my head i thought, the only other time he has ever kidnapped me like this was when he asked me to be his girlfriend.
after interrogating him incessantly wondering, why can't i just open my present at home?, T pulled into this sweet winery in Shingle Springs. by this time, it was pitch black outside, and again, i started freaking out. "we can't trespass here - this is someone's home! you can't just pull in after hours!" seriously guys, i had no idea what was going on. and T was laughing so hard at me.
T finally convinced me to get out of the car, so silently and with whispered "what is going ON?!'"s we crept down the hill toward a little gazebo. there were candles lit along all the benches in the gazebo and hanging from the ceiling. amidst the quiet stillness all around us, the pitter patter of leftover raindrops, and the wintery wind whispering through the trees, the sight was purely magical. but don't worry, i was still clueless. i wonder who they decorated this for - it's so sweet!, i thought. still trying to be as quiet as possible, because i was afraid someone would catch us, we stepped up onto the gazebo and BOOM - all the lights turned on.
dang it! they totally know we're here! it's totally a security light! i just couldn't believe T had arranged all of this, but when the music started playing it all started to click. he had it all planned out.
"want to dance with me?" he asked.
nodding my head, he pulled me in and we started spinning and twirling around to Nat King Cole.
"is this real life?" "what is going on?" i kept asking as i looked around and took all of the magic in. as i danced on my shaky legs, the reality of the moment started sinking in.
as the song ended, T said, "it's time to open your present." in that shoebox were two giant pieces of wood, and a little box tucked in the corner. when i looked back up, T was already down on one knee.
even writing about the moment makes my heart explode.
everything from that moment on is filled with inexplicable joy and the certain knowledge that God has worked everything together to bring us here - two best friends, in love, adventuring together and chasing after God.
after a dozen kisses, the best hugs, and one more dance, we drove back home to share the news with my family - how glad i was that T thought to include them in this moment! and that is the end of the story, but the beginning of great things - super great things.